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Birmingham

Ah Birmingham. An English cricketing fortress and cultural powerhouse. Home to world’s most beautifully named football club, the UK’s spiciest balti, and a musician named Astro. It’s also the place where Richie Benaud uttered arguably the two most revered words in the sporting lexicon: “Jones! Bowden!”

I’m afraid I wasn’t able to watch yesterday’s play live because I’m dealing with a family bereavement. Therefore I was reliant on the C5 highlights and social media reaction. It sounded like a typical England performance really: a Root half-century, some soft dismissals, and a good position squandered. It has been the same since Bell, Trott, and Pietersen either retired or were chucked out. The only exceptions have been in games when we never really established a good position in the first place. In other words we just capitulated without ever threatening something better. Oh well.

My thoughts from afar can be summarised thus. Having watched Ashwin pick up valuable wickets on day one, I bet England wished they’d chosen a second spinner. It’s kind of daft not to do so when you’re playing a specialist batsman at 7. Malan and Buttler mustered just 8 runs between them yesterday. What a waste. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if England want to make Jos the heartbeat of the side then put him up the order! Malan hasn’t scored runs for a while and hasn’t even threatened to do so. Moeen is probably more likely to score runs than Malan anyway, plus he’s a good spinner at home. Hmmm. The team selection seems illogical to me.

The other thing that has surprised people is the quality of India’s attack. I heard it all in the build up to the game: their seamers are toothless and Ashwin is crap overseas. Not so I’m afraid. Ashwin has learned quite a bit playing for Worcestershire, and Shami and Yadav are quicker than traditional Indian seamers. The former has always impressed me. Even Ishant has been getting some useful practice recently in county cricket.

I think it’s fair to say that England have a challenge on their hands. If India can post decent totals in this series then they’ll have every chance of winning, especially as it seems more and more apparent that this particular set of players have been drilled to win 50 over tournaments not test matches. We keep wondering why a batting line up that looks so tasty on paper keeps underperforming. Well there’s the obvious answer right there.

Before I sign off, I’d quickly like to relay a mind expanding stat I heard yesterday. Alastair Cook has played in over 15% of all test matches played by England, ever! I know this might seem pretty obvious when ones does the maths (England have played 1000 tests and Cook has approx 150 caps) but it’s still mind blowing. Talk about longevity.

James Morgan

2018-08-02T08:50:15+00:00 August 2nd, 2018|Eng v Ind 2018, Test Cricket|6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Gav August 2, 2018 at 9:55 am - Reply

    specialist at 7 really is a nothing selection. With Buttler as vice captain, they seem to want him in the side for his leadership qualities, which is reasonable. But at the cost of extra bowlers and consistent run scoring is it really that valuable?

    When are people going to start questioning Ben Stokes credentials as a specialist test match batsman? Cut out all this unearned hero worship and demanding better from him? When it’s coming off sure, he’s destructive a big hitter. But if you only have one way of playing, you’re not going to become a top class test match batsman, you’re just not. His dismissal was a typical stokes dismissal, a result of a temporary lack of focus/laziness creeping in, with only an hour out in the middle. The best batsmen are focused for hours at a time, you’re supposed to be surprised when they’re given out – I never get that impression with stokes. He just seems to be in a rush the whole time, soft dismissals like yesterday are always just a delivery away. He averages 35 (funnily enough in every form of the game including first class!) and he’s played 42 tests, when is he going to start delivering the runs that Test sides need from their number 5’s?

    Remember all the stick Ian Bell and Collingwood used to get, what we’d do for these two back in the order

  2. James August 2, 2018 at 10:55 am - Reply

    An all too typical (recent) England performance. Looking good, then snatching an underpar score from the jaws of something better. i know Ashwin is a top class spinner, but he should still not be affecting the first day of a test series in England.

  3. Simon H August 2, 2018 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    All the declarations about how poor England were and how good the Indian bowling was seem to be ignoring the adage about waiting until seeing oth teams bowl before judging a pitch.

    The three main Indian seamers average 28.9, 34.9 and 35.5 in Tests. Those are not great or even very good records. It’s not McGrath-Gillespie, Donald-Pollock, Ambrose-Walsh or Wasim-Waqar or even anywhere close. It’s not even the 1990s’ NZ bowling of Cairns-Nash-O’Connor. By the way, I also think not enough questions have been asked about the quality of India’s batting (Dhawan? Rahul? that lower middle order?) but that’s for another day.

    Anyway, I think I’ll spend the day trying to work what the ECB are going to spend 80% of £40m a year on for The Hundred given that this money appears not to be for either the players or the counties.

  4. muffin August 2, 2018 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    No brainer – Bairstow to open (instead of Cook on recent form), Buttler to keep.
    Malan’s first drop was a shocker; second more forgiveable.
    I’ve just seen Jamie Porter for the first time – Kent v. Essex 20/20. I know that it’s white rather than red ball, but he doesn’t look like a test bowler to me – fastest balls only high 70s. I know Derek Shackleton and Tom Cartwright weren’t quick, but they never bowled a bad ball between them!

  5. muffin August 2, 2018 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    (btw sorry to hear of your problems, James)

  6. James August 3, 2018 at 7:14 am - Reply

    (After day 2) This test seems to be England’s recent issues in a microcosm. Bat well, get in a good position then collapse. Bowl well, get the opposition in trouble then let them off the hook. Kohli’s 149 was magnificent, but he did benefit from a number of dropped catches (3 minimum). Cook clearly has problems with Ashwin: 9 balls, 1 run, 2 wickets (over the test). More or less identical (and very good) deliveries. Groundhog day for Cookie, and for England supporters.

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